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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Tobacco use remains the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States and in California. The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) is one of three entities that constitute California’s program to control tobacco consumption and alleviate the burden of tobacco-related disease. This effort was initiated by Proposition 99, “The Tobacco Tax and Health Protection Act of 1988” which mandated that the Department of Health Services, the Department of Education and the University of California be allocated a portion of the tobacco tax revenue collected to address issues of tobacco consumption and its consequences in the state. Enabling legislation requested that the University of California, in its role as the research arm of the state, “administer a comprehensive grant program to support research efforts related to the prevention, causes, and treatment of tobacco-related diseases” and that “ all qualified investigators, regardless of institutional affiliation, shall have equal access and opportunity to compete for the funds.”

The TRDRP is administered by the University of California and is a program of the Research Grants Program Office (RGPO), Office of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of California, Office of the President.

Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program

There are 442 publications in this collection, published between 2013 and 2023.
Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program Funded Publication (441)

Activation of the "Splenocardiac Axis" by electronic and tobacco cigarettes in otherwise healthy young adults.

The "Splenocardiac Axis" describes an inflammatory signaling network underlying acute cardiac ischemia, characterized by sympathetic nerve stimulation of hematopoietic tissues, such as the bone marrow and spleen, which then release proinflammatory monocytes that populate atherosclerotic plaques, thereby promoting ischemic heart disease. Electronic (e) cigarettes, like tobacco cigarettes trigger sympathetic nerve activation, but virtually nothing is known about their influence on hematopoietic and vascular tissues and cardiovascular risks. The objective of this study was to determine if the Splenocardiac Axis is activated in young adults who habitually use either tobacco or e-cigarettes. In otherwise healthy humans who habitually use tobacco cigarettes or e-cigarettes (not both), we used 18F-flurorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computer tomography (FDG-PET/CT) to test the hypothesis that tobacco or e-cigarettes increased metabolic activity of the hematopoietic and vascular tissues. FDG uptake in the spleen increased from nonuser controls (1.62 ± 0.07), to the e-cigarette users (1.73 ± 0.04), and was highest in tobacco cigarette smokers (1.82 ± 0.09; monotone P = 0.05). Similarly, FDG uptake in the aorta increased from the nonuser controls (1.87 ± 0.07) to the e-cigarette users (1.98 ± 0.07), and was highest in tobacco cigarette smokers (2.10 ± 0.07; monotone P = 0.04). FDG uptake in the skeletal muscle, which served as a control tissue, was not different between the groups. In conclusion, these findings are consistent with activation of the Splenocardiac Axis by emissions from tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes. This activation suggests a mechanism by which tobacco cigarettes, and potentially e-cigarettes, may lead to increased risk of future cardiovascular events.

Racial/Ethnic-Specific Differences in the Effects of Inhaled Corticosteroid Use on Bronchodilator Response in Patients With Asthma.

American Thoracic Society guidelines recommend inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy, plus a short-acting bronchodilator, in patients with persistent asthma. However, few prior studies have examined the efficacy of this combination in children of all racial/ethnic groups. We evaluated the association between ICS use and bronchodilator response (BDR) in three pediatric populations with persistent asthma (656 African American, 916 Puerto Rican, and 398 Mexican American children). The association was assessed using multivariable quantile regression. After adjusting for baseline forced expiratory volume in one second and use of controller medications, ICS use was significantly associated with increased BDR only among Mexican Americans (1.56%, P = 0.028) but not African Americans (0.49%, P = 0.426) or Puerto Ricans (0.16%, P = 0.813). Our results demonstrate that ICS augmentation is disproportionate across racial/ethnic groups, where improved BDR is observed in Mexican Americans only. This study highlights the complexities of treating asthma in children, and reinforces the importance of investigating the influence of race/ethnicity on pharmacological response.

Effect of Cigarette Smoking on a Marker for Neuroinflammation: A [11C]DAA1106 Positron Emission Tomography Study.

In the brain, microglia continuously scan the surrounding extracellular space in order to respond to damage or infection by becoming activated and participating in neuroinflammation. When activated, microglia increase the expression of translocator protein (TSPO) 18 kDa, thereby making the TSPO expression a marker for neuroinflammation. We used the radiotracer [11C]DAA1106 (a ligand for TSPO) and positron emission tomography (PET) to determine the effect of smoking on availability of this marker for neuroinflammation. Forty-five participants (30 smokers and 15 non-smokers) completed the study and had usable data. Participants underwent a dynamic PET scanning session with bolus injection of [11C]DAA1106 (with smokers in the satiated state) and blood draws during PET scanning to determine TSPO affinity genotype and plasma nicotine levels. Whole-brain standardized uptake values (SUVs) were determined, and analysis of variance was performed, with group (smoker vs non-smoker) and genotype as factors, thereby controlling for genotype. Smokers and non-smokers differed in whole-brain SUVs (P=0.006) owing to smokers having 16.8% lower values than non-smokers. The groups did not differ in injected radiotracer dose or body weight, which were used to calculate SUV. An inverse association was found between whole-brain SUV and reported cigarettes per day (P<0.05), but no significant relationship was found for plasma nicotine. Thus, smokers have less [11C]DAA1106 binding globally than non-smokers, indicating less microglial activation. Study findings are consistent with much prior research demonstrating that smokers have impaired inflammatory functioning compared with non-smokers and that constituents of tobacco smoke other than nicotine affect inflammatory processes.

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